Because of my southern heritage, my idea of soul food is a pork chop. A fried pork chop. I can remember staring at the pork chop plate and wondering who was going to get that last pork chop. Usually, the old man. But you never knew since I was a runt and perhaps needed more protein.
We were not overflowing with food back in SC. But I don’t remember having wandered around feeling hungry. Once I did climb up the persimmon tree right out by the kitchen door and eat too many green persimmons and got a stomach ache. Also it seemed like all the green stuff we had to eat came out of a can and tasted like crap—peas, green beans, and those goddamn lima beans.
Just looking at those fuckers there on my plate next to my rice was enough to destroy my pleasure in the whole meal. They would say, like, eat your vegetables because they would see that I was putting off eating them, and they were right. If you were going to get those fucking puckered up looking little peas down it was best to eat them with the other stuff. But with the limas I just couldn’t do it because eating them with the other stuff would just ruin any pleasure a body might take in eating the other stuff.
So I would do what I could and sort of casually bump off a few of those lima beans unto the table and some onto my lap and if I could manage it onto the floor. I was like fucking surrounded by lima beans, but no matter what I did there would still be a pile of them on the plate. And of course the longer I put it off the colder and uglier those beans got. I don’t know how many times I heard about those people in China just dying to get their hands on a fucking lima bean. If that was really the case, I figure those people in China was either crazy or goddamn raving hungry.
So the kitchen would be empty except for me and the lima beans because I had to clean my plate since money doesn’t grow on trees. I don’t know how long I would sit there staring at those fuckers. I just plain hated them. It wasn’t the taste really. Well, maybe it was, because that was pretty bad. But it was more the texture. It was like the lima bean had a really leathery hide and you had to bite down on it hard and when you did and broke the leathery hide out would squish this soft shit. I couldn’t stand it. Like every time I bit one this shit was exploding in my mouth.
So I did what I could and I would swallow the things whole like some goddamn big green pill. Gulp, gulp, gulp—one after the other….Anything so I didn’t have to use my teeth on the goddamn things. And they would feel like lead in my stomach and sometimes I would get a stomach ache. One day I noticed that these fuckers came in a can with this fellow on it that was called the Jolly Green Giant. As far as I was concerned there was nothing jolly at all about this Green fucker, and to this day I refused to buy anything with the Green fucker on the label.